From famously imperial and elegant capital of Vienna to the UNESCO World Heritage region of Wachau to the city of Music, Salzburg to the beautiful Alpine city of Innsbruck to the fairytale village of Hallstatt to the city of culture, Graz – Austria effortlessly charms its visitors.
Here we give you the epic ten-day itinerary that lets you discover the best of Austria.
What’s so epic about it?
Well, we crafted our Austria itinerary in a way that’d allow you to get the taste of the iconic Austrian cities as well as breathtaking Austrian countryside. The best of both worlds, eh?
This itinerary perfectly fits the families and couples who love road-tripping. Having said that, you need to rent a car in order to explore Austria. We love Rentalcars.com when it comes to renting a car anywhere in the world.Best car rental prices – Guaranteed. RentalCars.com
Now that you have already planned a trip to Austria and are in a process of designing an itinerary that fits your interests, it’s vital to know the travel essentials like when to go, how to get to, how to get around, where to stay and more before you set off.
Best Time to Visit Austria
The best time to visit Austria is from May through September. Spring (April and May), and autumn (September and October) are excellent to visit Austria as crowds are low, prices of accommodation are low too, and the weather is awesome.
June, July, and August (summer) bring more crowds, higher accommodation prices, and warm weather. It’s the high season owing to long days that allow more time to explore plus the Austrian countryside is a delight to visit during summer.
November, December, January, February, and March (winter) is the best time to go if skiing in the Austrian Alps is on your mind. I’d recommend going in December when you can witness Christmassy Austria and enjoy skiing as well.
How to Get to Austria
Schwechat International Airport in Vienna, W. A. Mozart Airport in Salzburg, and Kranebitten Airport in Innsbruck, the three major airports in Austria and Austrian Airlines, the main airline in Austria make sure that Austria is well-connected nationally and internationally.
You can start your Austrian exploration from Vienna and then move to the western region as most travelers do. Alternatively, you can fly into Zurich or Munich and start your exploration from the western region like Tirol and Salzburg.
Air India from New Delhi and Austrian Airlines from New York fly directly into Vienna and both take about 8 hours 20 minutes.
We recommend Skyscanner for the best flight deals.
You can also travel to Austria by train, bus, car, or ferry from the rest of Europe and the UK.
Austria Airport Transfers
Getting to and from all the major airports in Austria is easy. Vienna has a CAT (City Airport Train) that takes less than 20 minutes to the city center while Innsbruck and Salzburg have shuttle buses. Taxis are available outside all the airports.
Getting Around Austria
While the rental car remains the best option to travel in and around Austria, ÖBB (Austrian Railways) is also a good option as it effortlessly connects the major Austrian cities.
If you’re planning to explore Austria by train, I strongly recommend buying an Interrail Austria Pass that gives you unlimited access to ÖBB for the desired number of days. You can go for Interrail Global Pass if you plan to cover 2 or more countries in Europe. Global Pass covers about 33 countries.
Getting around and exploring the major cities of Austria becomes easy, fuss-free, and economical with the city cards like Vienna City Card (all major Austrian cities have one) as they not only offer free unlimited use of public transportation for the duration but also give free entry to various attractions.
Visa for Austria
Switzerland, the European Economic Area, and EU member states nationals do not need a visa for entering Austria.
USA nationals can enter and stay in Austria for a maximum period of 90 days per 180 days without a visa.
Indian nationals need a Schengen Visa to enter Austria. Read our comprehensive guide to a Schengen visa for Indians.
Where to Stay in Austria
You’ll most likely stay in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Graz. Tourists mostly cover Hallstatt and around as a day trip from Vienna or Salzburg but I’d say that the Salzkammergut region is one of the most beautiful regions in Austria and thus, a perfect area to stay for a night or two.
So, here are our recommendations for the best hotels in the major Austrian cities:
Best Hotels in Vienna
- Hotel Sans Souci Wien (Luxury)
- Hotel Beethoven Wien (Mid-Range)
- Pension Primavera (Budget)
- Vienna Hostel Ruthensteiner (Backpackers)
- Hotel Altstadt Vienna (Families)
Best Hotels in Salzburg
- Hotel Schloss Mönchstein (Luxury)
- IMLAUER HOTEL PITTER Salzburg (Best Value)
- Boutique Guesthouse arte vida (Mid-Range)
- YoHo – International Youth Hostel (Backpackers)
- Salzachvilla (Families)
Best Hotels in Innsbruck
- Hotel Innsbruck (Luxury)
- Hotel Zach (Best Value)
- Blue Mountain Hostel (Backpackers)
- AC Hotel by Marriott (Families)
Best Hotels in Graz
- Schlossberghotel – Das Kunsthotel (Luxury)
- NH Graz City (Mid-Range)
- Hotel Süd (Best Value)
- Augarten Art Hotel (Unique)
- Parksuites Apartments Graz (Families)
Best Towns and Hotels to Stay in Salzkammergut region
- Ferienhaus Salzberg in Hallstatt
- COOEE alpin Hotel Dachstein in Gosau
- Haus Salzkammergut in Obertraun
- Wohlfühlhotel Goiserer Mühle in Bad Goisern
- Hotel-Garni & Hostel Sandwirt in Bad Ischl
- Hotel Bürglstein in St. Wolfgang
- Hotel-Garni Schernthaner in St. Gilgen
Airbnb is a great option if you are traveling in a group or on a budget. It provides you with an option to cook on your own rather than eating out in expensive restaurants. Kids get more space to play and run around.
Here’s a road map for 10-day Austria itinerary:
Our Austria Itinerary covers the cities of Vienna, Melk, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Graz, Eisenstadt along with little countryside towns and a classic alpine pass road drive.
Here’s another map that shows points of interest or places to visit with 10 days in Austria.
We wanted to but couldn’t cover Innsbruck due to time-crunch. You can add the beautiful capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck to this itinerary with additional (2 or more days) time on hands.
- Day 1: Arrive in Vienna
- Day 2: Explore Vienna
- Day 3: Day-trip from Vienna to Bratislava (Slovakia)
- Day 4: Wachau Valley / Melk
- Day 5: Explore Salzburg
- Day 6: Day-trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt
- Day 7: Drive the classic Grossglockner High Alpine Road to Lienz
- Day 8: Graz
- Day 9: to Vienna via Eisenstadt (Burgenland)
- Day 10: Fly back home
Day 1: Arrive in Vienna | Explore Vienna
Your Austrian odyssey begins in Vienna, Austria’s capital and the largest city. Depending upon when you arrive in Vienna, you can plan your day accordingly.
Austria’s love for coffee and cake is worth mentioning here. Viennese passion for coffee was recognized by UNESCO and it listed the Viennese Coffee House Culture on their Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
You can stroll the lovely streets of Vienna to get acquainted with it before you start exploring the next day.
Day 2: Explore Vienna
Well rested, all rejuvenated, today you’ll tour the beautiful city of Vienna. Don’t rush around. You miss out on all the fun when you try to see or do everything. Remember, less is more.
We’d suggest taking a Free Walking Tour that takes you through about 20 most important sights in the old town of Vienna. The tours start at Albertina Square and end at St. Stephen’s Cathedral and last for 2 hours.
We found it a nice way to explore a city if you just have a day or two in a city.
They’ll take you around Albertina Square, Monument against war and fascism, Vienna State Opera House, Burggarten, Hofburg Palace, Graben, Mozart House, and all the lovely squares and parks. The guide is usually knowledgeable and narrates the history in an interesting manner.
You can tip him or her at the end of the tour as per your choice. Tourists usually tip from €10 to €30.
Once you’re done with the walking tour, we recommend climbing the South Tower (Steffl) of St. Stephen’s Cathedral to enjoy the wonderful view over Vienna. It costs €6 per adult and €2.50 per child.
After relishing the beautiful views, it’s time to relish the good food. Head to Naschmarkt. It’s about 10 minutes by walk from St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
A market is a destination in itself. There are stands selling fresh, fruits, vegetables, and local delicacies and then there are restaurants serving Viennese, Italian, Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and whatnot cuisines.
Once done with lunch, make your way to Karlsplatz U-Bahn station and board the U4 to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer palace of Hapsburg. The palace is grand and beautiful.
You can walk the gardens and admire the palace from outside for free. Or you can take one of the guided tours of the palace to see the rooms of the palace. Click here for more information on opening and closing hours, tours, and tickets.
Take a U-Bahn (U4) to Landstraße and walk a bit to Hundertwasser house. Admire the unusually beautiful house of Austria’s artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and know more about the artist at Kunst Haus Wien.
Take a tram 1 to reach Prater Wien, the world’s oldest amusement park. The park is open 24X7 and the entry is free. The individual attractions and rides are charged. Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad) is Vienna’s trademark and a must-take ride at Prater. The ride costs € 12 per adult and € 5 per child.
End your day with dinner at Rollercoaster Restaurant. It’s unique and one of the best places in Vienna to dine with kids.
We stayed at the Hotel Altstadt Vienna. It’s about 1.6 km (1 mile) from the center and is a great place to stay for families and couples.
How to Get Around Vienna
Vienna has an extensive public transportation network that makes getting around the city easy and efficient. You can use a combination of buses, trains, trams, subway (U-Bahn), and regional trains (S-Bahn).
You can access the transport maps posted at U-Bahn stations, bus stops, and tram stops. Wiener Linien information offices at U-Bahn stations offer free maps. The tickets and passes can be bought at U-Bahn stations and Tabak Trafik kiosks or on trams and buses.
A single ticket costs about € 2.20 and a bit more when purchased on trams and buses. You can also buy 24-hour or 48-hour or 72-hour or weekly tickets that save you some Euros if you are planning on using public transportation expensively for your stay in Vienna.
Do consider buying a Vienna Pass or Vienna Card (both are different) if you’ve more than 2 days in Vienna as they save a lot of money, time, and hassle.
Vienna Pass offers:
- Free entry to 60+ attractions
- Fast track entry to many attractions
- Unlimited access to Hop on Hop off Buses
- Free guidebook and map
- Travelcard that gives unlimited access to public transport at an additional cost
Vienna City Card offers:
- Free Unlimited travel on public transport in Vienna
- Discounts in museums, tourists attractions, restaurants, and shopping
The city card has different options viz. Vienna City Card (public transport and discounts), Vienna City Card Tourpublic transport, discounts, and 24h Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus), Vienna City Card Transfer (public transport, discounts, and Airport Transfer), and Vienna City Card Transfer + Tour (public transport, discounts, 24h Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus, and Airport Transfer).
We purchased the Vienna City Card for 48 hours.
Vienna Pass is only worth it if you want to cram a lot of museums and attractions during your short stay (2 or 3 days) in Vienna. We usually love to wander around the city while visiting 2 to 3 attractions and trying local cuisines rather than running around to cover a larger chunk of them. So, Vienna Pass will be a waste of money for people like us.
Vienna Pass would add value to people who really want to see all or at least most of the popular attractions in the city.
Day 3: Day Trip to Bratislava from Vienna
How about taking a day trip to another country?
You can take day trips to Budapest (Hungary), Prague (Czech Republic), and Bratislava (Slovakia) from Vienna.
As we had Budapest already on our Europe itinerary so we chose Bratislava as our day trip destination over Prague.
Why? Well, Prague is about 4 hours away from Vienna compared to Bratislava that’s just about an hour’s drive and we felt that Bratislava can be explored in a day but Prague needs more time. Makes sense, eh?
The drive from Vienna to Bratislava is a breeze. You wouldn’t know when you crossed the border into another country.
The must-see sights in Bratislava include Bratislava Castle, St. Martin’s Cathedral, Old Town Hall, Primate’s Palace, Michael’s Gate, Blue Church, Slavin, and UFO.
Oh! and don’t forget to get clicked with weird but interesting statues in Bratislava Old Town.
How to Get Around Bratislava
Bratislava has an extensive network of trams, buses, and trolleybuses. Though, you’d rarely find a need to use public transport except for Bratislava Castle and Petržalka.
Bratislava Old Town is compact and can pretty much be explored on foot.
Bus 93 goes to Petržalka while Trolleybus 207 goes to Bratislava. You can catch them from Hodžovo námestie, the main square in Bratislava. Tickets can be purchased at the stops, newsstands, and tourist information centers.
We walked the old town and the used a small tourist city train (Prešporáčik Oldtimer) to see other major landmarks that can’t be explored on foot.
PS: Bratislava Card offers unlimited travel by public transportation in Bratislava, free entry to about 14 museums and galleries, a free guided tour of Bratislava, and 100+ discounts on many attractions and restaurants. You can buy your Bratislava Card here.
Head to Danube Tower while coming back from Bratislava to enjoy the dinner with a view. Danube Tower (Donauturm), the tallest structure in Austria offers panoramic views across Danube Park, Vienna’s old town, and Vienna woods.
A bit expensive in terms of food, 360˚ rotating restaurant, Turmrestaurant offers views that leave you breathless.
Day 4: Wachau Valley | Dürnstein | Melk
It’s time to say auf wiedersehen to Vienna and hallo to the Austrian countryside.
Today you’ll enjoy a beautiful drive to Danube valley (Wachau). It’s a beautiful stretch between the towns of Krems and Melk.
A drive from Vienna to Melk takes just around an hour but as there are amazing sights and attractions along the way, the drive will take longer depending upon how much time you spend at each place.
The main points of Interest along Vienna to Wachau:
- Aggsbach Markt
- Schloss Schönbühel
- Melk/Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey (Stift Melk), a major attraction in Wachau is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and one of the biggest Baroque monasteries in Europe. Once you’re done touring Melk Abbey, enjoy your dinner at Stiftsrestaurant.
The road trip ends in Melk. You’ll spend a night in Melk.
We stayed at Ferienwohnung im Cottageviertel and you know, couldn’t get enough of it. It’s that lovely!
How to Get Around Wachau
The most efficient way to get around Wachau is by rented car. Our Austria itinerary urges you to rent a car to explore Austria. Find cheap and best car rental here.
If you plan to explore Wacahu on a day trip from Vienna, you can book this full-day Danube Valley Bus and Boat Tour from Vienna.
Day 5: Drive from Melk to Salzburg
It’s time to head to the city of Mozart, Salzburg. From Melk to Salzburg it’s a little less than 2 hours of drive.
The major attractions in Salzburg include Mirabell Palace and Gardens, Mozart Wohnhaus, Love Locks Bridge, Getreidegasse, Old City Hall, Grunmarkt, Alter Markt, DomQuartier, ResidenzPlatz, MozartPlatz, KapitalPlatz, Fortress Hoehnsalzburg, Mönchsberg, St. Peter’s cemetery, and Hellbrunn Palace.
Salzburg is compact enough to be explored on foot. You’ll be able to see most of the sights without rushing.
Have dinner at Bärenwirt before you check into your hotel.
We stayed at an Airbnb apartment in Ainring, Germany. It’s around 7 km from the center of Salzburg. Gerhard was an amazing host and the apartment was sparklingly clean with the beautiful view of mountains. You can check it here.
How to Get Around Salzburg
Salzburg has an efficient public transportation system consisting of buses, trams, and bus taxis but we recommend getting around on foot. The city is pretty walkable. In fact, you’d explore more on foot.
Get advantage of free and unlimited access to public transport, free entry to top attractions and sights, and additional discounts and perks with the Salzburg Card.
Day 6: Day Trip to Hallstatt from Salzburg
Today, you’ll take a day trip to a charming tiny town of Hallstatt. It’s around 1 hour 30 minutes easy drive from Salzburg to Hallstatt.
You can also take a half-day guided tour to Hallstatt from Salzburg.
There’s nothing much to do in Hallstatt but to pause and enjoy the beauty of the Lake Hallstatt and Dachstein Alps.
I’d recommend checking out the Hallstatt Salt Mine and Dachstein Krippenstein.
I’d not recommend eating in Hallstatt. I didn’t find good places to eat in Hallstatt. I’d suggest making a stop at Fuschl or Bad Ischl on the way from Hallstatt and Salzburg. We ate at BRUNNWIRT ESSEN und WOHNEN in Fuschl and really liked it.
How to Get Around Hallstatt
Hallstatt is a tiny village with just one street along the lake. You can walk the entire length in just about 10 to 15 minutes.
You can drive or catch the bus 542 or 543 from Hallstatt Bus Station to Dachstein Krippenstein.
Day 7: Grossglockner High Alpine Road
It’s time to drive one of the most beautiful and epic roads in Austria – Grossglockner High Alpine Road. You’d love everything about it.
The Grossglockner, named after Austria’s highest mountain is one of the highest alpine roads in Europe. The road leads through Austria’s Oldest National Park, Hohe Tauern National Park.
It’s not just a road trip but offers umpteen number of amazing attractions and activities on the way.
There are many restaurants and cafes along the road for you to eat or just relax with a cup of coffee and cake.
You’ll spend a night at Lienz.
We stayed at Parkhotel Tristachersee in Lienz. It’s awesome in every aspect. The view of Lienz Dolomites and exceptionally peaceful surroundings make it desirable.
Day 8: Graz
Often overlooked, Graz is Austria’s second-largest city and the capital city of Styria. Named European Capital of Culture (2003) and City of Design (2009), Graz has so much to offer in terms of art, design, architecture, and culture.
The must-visit places in Graz include Kunsthaus Graz, Murinsel, Eggenberg Palace, and Schloßberg.
We stayed at Schlossberghotel – Das Kunsthotel in Graz and totally loved it.
How to Get Around Graz
Graz’s public transport system includes buses, trams, old town trams, Schlossbergbahn funicular, and Schlossberg lift. Flat-fare tickets are valid for all the buses, trams, and Schlossbergbahn funicular.
You can buy tickets from the bus driver, ticket machines in the tram, ticket machines at certain train stations, TicketApp, and Tabak/Trafik kiosks.
Day 9: Eisenstadt | Lake Neusiedl (Burgenland)
Today you’re traverse through Burgenland while driving from Graz to Vienna. Burgenland is a region to the southeast of Vienna that borders three countries – Hungary (east), Slovakia (north), and Slovenia (south).
It, in fact, feels like traversing different countries on one road trip.
We recommend exploring the towns of Eisenstadt and Neusiedl am See.
You have an option to spend a night at Neusiedl am See or drive an hour to Vienna.
Day 10: Fly Back Home
Day 10 – your last in Austria – is completely yours to spend however you want to. A museum? Just strolling the streets? Shopping for the souvenirs? The last cup of Viennese coffee?
And yes, make sure to reach the airport on time considering you’ve to drop your rental car at the airport depot before beginning your journey back home.
A trip through Austria is definitely going to be a trip to remember for you!
Have you ever been to Austria? How did you like it? We’d love to hear from you.
Followed this itinerary and enjoyed it? Share it with the world. Pretty please?
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